3 thoughts on “Do philosophers have a prima facie duty to stay out of politics?

  1. My first thought is that philosophers rarely live the philosophy they espouse. I would expect the same faults and foibles from a philosopher as from any machine politician.

    I still haven’t resolved the conflict between morals and political actions. Let’s say I lead a country that practices civil rights. My country will become a tyranny if I do the moral and legal thing. If I do immoral and/or illegal things my country remains. As Isaac Asimov said “Don’t let your sense of morals keep you from doing the right thing.”

    Plato advocated Philosopher Kings in _The Republic_. I hear he changed is mind in _The Laws_.

  2. The original argument from Bas van der Vossen is an interesting one, but a lot appears to be riding on what is meant by “political philosophers.” If the term only narrowly picks out folks who write “Political Philosophy” by AOS on their CVs – i.e., people working in the tradition of mainstream political philosophy – then surely his second premise has some problems. But if the term is much broader and inclusive of all philosophers who engage with issues that have deep political implications (e.g., I take most feminist philosophers to be folks who engage heavily with political issues, but generally not in a way that would be treated as welcome by mainstream political philosophy – this is why I don’t consider myself a political philosopher), then surely his (4) is false.

  3. It seems to me (perhaps wrongly) that unless you are an antirealist about justice, then you can’t so easily separate the question of truth from the question of praxis.

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